Autumn is a time to slow down, put your feet up, and enjoy a cup of something hot in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine.
If you need something to keep you busy when that’s done, autumn is never short of green-friendly projects around the home and garden.
Here are seven green ideas to keep you busy in the season of pumpkin spice, apples, cinnamon, and falling leaves:
1. Simplify, Beautify
Quiet days indoors are a perfect reminder to reassess life in the home for the impact it has on the natural world outside.
Take time to go through the deepest, darkest hiding places in cupboards, toy boxes, the attic, basement, chests, and garden shed.
Declutter. Recycle where possible. Donate unnecessary clothes, tools, kitchenware, and furniture. Repurpose the old with a brand new paint job.
While going through each item, remember to think about its environmental impact so you can make better choices with the next purchase, or use it in a greener way. Are there single-use items you can replace with reusable, sustainable items?
Do you have a habit of buying lots of plastic items which clutter up your storage spaces, when you could be buying environmentally-friendly items to replace it instead?
2. Green the House
Are there ways you can decrease your carbon footprint, save water, and decrease power usage? Try the following:
- Greywater systems.
- Installing rain tanks in time for upcoming spring rains.
- Switch out light bulbs for energy-saving ones.
- Install solar lamps or panels for heating.
- Set up the compost heap in an easy access location to the kitchen (or a way to keep the cuttings in an easy to carry container until the end of each day).
3. Clean Up
Go through the chemical cleaning agents in your kitchen. Clean up your act. It is better for everyone to choose sustainable, non-toxic, biodegradable products.
Preferably products made from renewable sources and responsible distributors.
Perhaps it is time to dry DIY cleaning products – you may be surprised at the effectiveness.
Try some apple cider vinegar, baking soda and warm water for wiping surfaces. It gets rid of grime like a charm.
We don’t usually think about insulation through the warmer weather so autumn provides opportunities to get stuck into the idea.
It doesn’t need to be professional insulation, although it is better to do it right the first time.
Adding insulation to rooms, behind wall heaters, and in the ceilings will help with both cold weather and warm weather, lowering your energy bill as the temperature stays more constant inside the house.
5. Start a Worm Farm
The garden needs all the help it can get during the colder, drier months.
A worm farm is an awesome project to get going in autumn when the pruning and chopping and grass cuttings are keeping the green fingers active.
Worms love all organic things (except for acidic materials like citrus and onions) and turn it into rich, fertile soil.
The ‘worm wee’ can also be tapped out and diluted in a watering can for some extra growth factor for all things green.
Keep them moist and turn the material every now and again to keep the process going.
6. No-Waste Crafts
Autumn is also an awesome opportunity to use natural materials to decorate the house. The children love being involved in decor efforts; including carving, sticking, shaping and collecting materials.
- Decorate with pine cones,
- make wreaths with leaves, vines and dried flowers,
- carve pumpkins,
- make gourd candle holders, and
- use leftover bits of glass and tiling to create mosaics on flower pots, stones, and walkways.
Use extra fabric pieces to create reusable items like fabric shopping bags, fruit and vegetable liners to replace the small plastic bags in the grocery store, and quilts for the homeless.
Rather than using synthetic fibers for the crafts, try tying it all together (or knitting and crocheting) with bamboo yarn – a yarn gathered from sustainable, fast-growing bamboo forest.
When it is all done, throw it all in the compost heap (or into the winter fireplace). No waste, no problem.
TIP: Remember pine cones are wonderful objects for decor ideas but organic material tends to pick up bugs and mold. To be extra careful, roast the pine cones at 200^C for 90 minutes in the oven before using them around the house.
It is a ludicrous idea to think of nature’s waste being thrown into landfills when fallen leaves can be so valuable to the ground from which they came. Make greener choices this autumn and see the leaves for what they are – a renewable resource for eco-conscious gardeners.
Autumn leaves can be used in the following ways:
The leaves keep coming and the wind makes it impossible to keep them to one side. Why not just mow over them (without a collection attachment) a few times. This breaks them up into small pieces which can decompose quickly and then eventually disappear altogether into the lawn.
Leaves can be layered directly onto flower beds, newly prepared ground, vegetable gardens, and autumn bulbs. This will help create a barrier against the elements and add an extra layer against weed growth.
If you have time and patience enough to wait it out, the leaves can be kept in a plastic bag, kept in a dark, moist place for two to three years. To shorten the molding process, use smaller pieces. The resulting ‘leaf mold’ resembles compost and smells like nature. It can be used to add richness to the ground, to spruce up potting soil and
Obviously, leaves are great for the compost heap but do tend to pile up quickly. If you can use smaller pieces and compost these, layering the leaves between grass cuttings, the decomposition process will be quicker.